Litchfield grabs share of BL soccer title
LITCHFIELD – Timmy Donovan didn’t listen to his coach. Flat out disregarded the instructions thrown his way. For most that would get you the bench. This time it got Donovan a heartfelt fist bump and generated a heap of respect.
With a hat trick already under his belt, Litchfield’s immensely talented sophomore forward had a chance to add a fourth goal and tie the program's single season scoring record. Most players would have jumped at the chance. Donovan? Well, he had other ideas.
Donovan gave the opportunity to senior Charlie Shanks who in turn rifled a shot into the net for the score. All together the highlight on a Halloween afternoon that saw the Cowboys blank archrival Wamogo, 5-0, and grab a share of the Berkshire League with Lewis Mills for the first time since 2007.
The Cowboys and Lewis Mills will take 13-2-1 records into next week’s state tournament.
Litchfield is an extremely talented team but titles need more. And the ultimate gesture of teamwork that has characterized the team did not escape the appreciative eyes of coach Rob Andrulis.
“That was the play of the game,’ said Rob Andrulis. “I was yelling for him to take it but he wanted Charlie to have it. He gave up a chance to tie Matt Hula’s single season record of 27 goals. Timmy is a special player but Charlie is the catalyst. Without him Tim doesn’t get the ball. This was special.”
There was never any doubt in Donovan’s mind about what he was going to do when the penalty kick was called.
“Charlie played great and this was the last time playing against Wamogo,” said Donovan. “He didn’t have a goal and he deserved it.”
The resulting title capped off a topsy-turvy six days which saw Litchfield seemingly lose their shot at the title last Thursday with a loss to Housatonic, 1-0, rebound the next night to give Mills its first loss of the season, 1-0, and then pray for some help.
Enter Housatonic again. The Mountaineers proved to be equal opportunity heartbreakers, this time around ending Mills’ hopes of a solo title in in its last BL season before departing to the Central Connecticut Conference with a 1-0 win Monday afternoon.
“I sent a note to Ben (Lewis Mills coach Kulas) after we lost to Housatonic and told him we didn’t play well,” said Andrulis.
Instead of being down for the next night’s tussle with Mills, the loss to Housatonic seemed to have the opposite impact.
“Our energy level against Housatonic was down here,” said Andrulis pointing to somewhere near the core of the earth,” Friday against Mills it was up here (near the sky). I’ve said this is one of the best teams I’ve coached. I told them let’s not let (Mills) win the title on our turf and we played outstanding. “
So how does a team get back up so quickly after having its title hopes reduced to near non-existence.
“We picked up momentum from the loss,” said goalie Coleby Bunnell. “It sparked something in us. It pushed us through.”
“We knew Housatonic wasn’t the end of the season,” added Shanks. “We attacked Lewis Mills with the importance of the state tournament. The season didn’t end with the BL.
Then Housatonic did its thing against Mills which shouldn’t be a surprise to the more learned fans according to Andrulis who learned the result from a call from athletic director Kyle Weaver.
“That team is 13-3 without its losses due to forfeits. That’s a good team,” said Andrulis.
While no one would say so, a loss to Wamogo would have be an upset special of the first order. Litchfield had posted a 6-0 victory over the Warriors the first time around and this was taking care of business time.
Pushing its way for a spot on the championship stage in a league so long dominated by Mills and Nonnewaug wasn’t lost on the Cowboys who have been good but always a tad behind.
“It’s amazing that one of the schools on the smaller end that’s been so close,” said Shanks. “To translate that to play on the field and share a title is a great feeling.”
“We went 4-1-1 against the Class M schools in the league, that’s why were champs,” said Andrulis. “This doesn’t happen too often. This is some kind of group.”
A championship group.